Summer is a Bummer for Technology Refreshes

As we head into winter break, a relevant ‘update’ for IT directors.

GUEST COLUMN | by Paula Currie 

Summer is the ideal time for school districts to embark on maintenance and modernization projects that are difficult to get done when buildings are occupied with students. While students are working and vacationing, campuses tend to be busy with painting, repair, cleaning, and technology upgrades.

Summer also is the most popular time for IT directors to swap out student learning devices, such as iPads and MacBooks. These are collected from students and teachers at the end of the year, giving staff a couple months to trade them in and purchase a new fleet before school starts up again.

Little do schools know that these summer technology refreshes could be costing them thousands of dollars that could be put toward additional technology purchases.

Little do schools know that these summer technology refreshes could be costing them thousands of dollars that could be put toward additional technology purchases. That’s because the resale market for Apple devices tends to be flooded during the summer as thousands of schools trade in their used devices. A glut of devices results in lower purchasing prices by buyback companies. This is the rule of supply and demand at work.

Refresh when demand is high

A better strategy is to refresh devices when demand for used Apple technology is high and the supply is low. This tends to be fall, when buyback companies are looking for devices they can refurbish and sell to meet the demand of holiday buyers.

Fall also is a good time to trade in used Apple devices before Apple ships its new generations of devices. Once this happens, older generations lose some value on the resale market, so buyback companies will pay less for these devices.

Another good time to refresh used Apple devices is late winter—around February and March. This time period takes advantage of a natural lull at Apple, after the holidays are over but before IT directors start thinking about summer purchases. The negotiating power of school districts for new Apple devices will hit its peak during this period. Trading in devices at this time also means that the refresh can take place during spring break week, which will minimize classroom disruption.

Refreshing devices during these two time periods can net school districts as much as 12 percent more for devices. On a fleet of 2,000 iPads, this can translate to $34,000, which can be reinvested in new technology, such as 115 additional iPads. (See chart above)

But, but, but…

At this point, IT directors probably have a list of why an off-summer refresh won’t work for them. However, a lot has changed since these schools did their last refresh, especially when it comes to configuring devices. Let’s look at a few misconceptions and calm these fears.

Misconception 1: It takes weeks to collect, prepare and inventory devices before a buyback can take place.

Reality: A good buyback partner will come onsite and make this process much easier. Look for a buyback company that will review your devices in advance and give you a guaranteed buyback figure, and then work alongside your staff to quickly inventory, pack and ship devices. A good buyback company also will coordinate with Apple to ensure the new devices are delivered even before the buyback is complete. This condensed buyback period also ensures that devices don’t lose value during a protracted buyback process.

Misconception 2: It takes time to get new devices ready for students.

Reality: Apple now is able to configure devices to conform to a district’s learning environment before the devices are shipped to schools. These devices also come already enrolled in a mobile device management (MDM) program, making the process seamless. Just a few years ago this process could take a couple weeks to complete; today devices arrive ready to use.

Misconception 3: An off-summer refresh will disrupt the learning environment.

Reality: Most technology refreshes of 4,000 or fewer devices can be done in a week, and they can be timed to take place during planned school breaks in the fall and spring. Larger refreshes can be staggered to minimize disruption.

Technology has advanced a great deal in just a few short years, and so have the buyback and refresh processes. Today, the ability to trade in used devices and buy a new fleet of technology is greatly condensed and much easier on IT resources. What used to take weeks can now be accomplished in a fraction of the time.

It’s no longer necessary to wait until summer to refresh devices, when a mid-year refresh makes better financial sense.

Paula Currie is Vice President of Procurement for Second Life Mac. She is a 10-year veteran of Apple Inc., where she was a trusted expert on digital learning and 1-to-1 technology. Contact her through LinkedIn.

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